Q: #525. What is "living water" (Jn 4:10)?
By: Steve Shirley
A: The term ("living water") is found in (Jn 4:10), and is part of a conversation Jesus had with the "Woman At The Well" in John Chapter 4. This is a complicated verse, and has been a matter of much debate. I have spent a significant amount of time studying it, and the verses around it to determine what Jesus meant by "living water." First, let's post (Jn 4:10).
(Jn 4:10) "Jesus answered and said unto her, If thou knewest the gift of God, and who it is that saith to thee, Give me to drink; thou wouldest have asked of him, and he would have given thee living water."
A majority of scholars believe that "living water" is referring to the "Holy Spirit." This is based primarily upon two things. The first is that Jesus said He would "give it" (verses 10 & 14). The second is based upon (Jn 7:37-39), which seems to point to "living water" being the Holy Spirit. This is certainly possible. In fact, at first, I was so confident about the Holy Spirit being "living water" that I almost had my first study done. But...... as I kept looking up verses, I started moving towards a new view; that "Jesus" is the "living water," not the Holy Spirit. (I had to rewrite my study.)
Following are the reasons why I now believe that "Jesus" is the "living water."
#1. The first reason is found in the verses which follow (Jn 4:10). (Jn 4:13-14) "Jesus answered and said unto her, Whosoever drinketh of this water shall thirst again: (14) But whosoever drinketh of the water that I shall give him shall never thirst; but the water that I shall give him shall be in him a well of water springing up into everlasting life."
Let's break down verse 14:
(A:) If you "drinketh" of the "living water," you have "everlasting (eternal) life." Who gives "everlasting (eternal) life:" Jesus or the Holy Spirit? Jesus (Jn 3:16)(Jn 6:40,47)(Jn 10:28)(Rom 6:23)! AFTER we receive Jesus, and therefore have "eternal life," we are sealed with the Holy Spirit as the "guarantee" of this (Eph 1:13-14)(2 Cor 1:22)(2 Cor 5:5). This sounds like Jesus is "living water."
(B:) "A well of water." It interesting to note that the word "well" used here in Greek ("pege") is the same word used for "fountain." In other words, "a FOUNTAIN of water springing up into everlasting life." This ties well into (Rev 21:6)(NKJV) which says, "And He said to me, “It is done! I am the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End. I will give of the fountain of the water of life freely to him who thirsts."
Who is the Alpha and Omega in this verse? Jesus.
What is the "fountain of water" in this verse? Again, I believe it is Jesus. He will give Himself "freely to him who thirsts."
(C:) A "fountain of water" also goes back to the Old Testament. In (Jer 2:13)(Jer 17:13), God is called "a fountain of living water" that the Israelites rejected. We might say, "they refused to drink from Him to have life." I do not believe that this is referring to the Holy Spirit, as the Holy Spirit was only given temporarily in the Old Testament. I view this as likely another instance of Jesus In The Old Testament.
(D:) "A well (fountain) of water SPRINGING up." This is interesting, and also goes back to the Old Testament.
Take a look at a similar verse found in (Gen 26:19) "And Isaac's servants digged in the valley, and found there a well of SPRINGING water." The Hebrew word used for "springing" is "chay," which Strong's defines as: "alive... life (or living thing) whether lit. or fig." Putting this another way, when Isaac's servants dug the well, they found water that was "living (chay)" not "dead or stagnant." The Barnes Commentary says this, "The Jews used the expression "living water" to denote springs, fountains, or running streams, in opposition to dead and stagnant water."
In other words, when Jesus used the term "living water," He was using a term that the Jews were familiar with from the Old Testament. "Living water" refreshed, rejuvenated, and renewed the person who drank it. It was a picture of having "new life." As with nearly all things in the Old Testament, this pointed to Jesus who gives new life.
#2. Another thing tied to (D) is that "living water," or water that was "alive" and "moving," (running "chay" water) was to be used in certain "purification" rituals that God commanded in the Old Testament (Lev 15:13)(Lev 14:5-6, 50-52)(Num 19:17). Again, this pointed forward to Jesus, who "purifies" us (Heb 9:13-14)(Titus 2:13-14)(1 Jn 1:7).
#3. Finally, we have parallel verses of "drinking" or "eating" Jesus. For example, (Jn 6:35) says, "And Jesus said unto them, I am the bread of life: he that cometh to me shall never hunger; and he that believeth on me shall never thirst." Jesus follows this by saying that the "manna" which was "eaten" in the Old Testament (Ex 16:1-36) pointed to Him. Finally, Jesus speaks of "eating His flesh" and "drinking His blood" in (Jn 6:53-58). He also says that in doing so, that person will have "eternal life" (Jn 6:51,54,58). (Just as the one who drinks "living water" has "eternal life:" Jn 4:14.)
***Note: In taking the Lord's Supper ("Communion"), we "figuratively" eat the body and drink the blood of Jesus (1 Cor 11:23-26)(Lk 22:19-20)(Mt 26:26-28).
My notes for this study are crazy.... They are filled with dozens verses, Greek and Hebrew words, different titles, connecting arrows, and more... I know it doesn't look like it, but this study took the better part of a week. In opposition to many others, I am convinced that the "living water" is Jesus.